The late, great Douglas Adams began the book Mostly Harmless with a series of short statements, namely:
- Anything that happens, happens.
- Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
- Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
- It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.
We know that we can safely discard the last of these as a quirk of the plot of that particular, brilliant book ( if you haven’t read the hitchhikers guide series, go and do so just as soon as you have finished reading this. If you have, read it again).
After his tragically untimely death a further book was released, called The Salmon of Doubt. Collected in this book were a series of articles, notes and speeches that Adams gave about things that interested him.
One of those speeches was given in Cambridge in 1998 and is entitled ‘is there an artificial god?’ Don’t worry, I’m not writing this today to talk about religion. What I am interested in, in the context of the above is the idea of, as Adams put it,
‘enormously simple elements giving rise to enormously complex results, then the idea of life being an emergent phenomenon’
Douglas Adams was talking about the evolution of life in this speech and, interestingly, Simpol has been examined using the principles of evolutionary transformation in the book Solving Climate Change: Transforming International Politics
But more than that perhaps, the principle is important generally. The idea behind Simpol is a simple one (hence the name really!) and yet it gives rise to hugely complex results:
- Just the act of voting cooperatively is sufficient to drive global political change.
- Moreover, the decidedly non complex idea of voters creating the policy themselves is enough to turn the entirety of politics on its head.
Adams examined this issue by looking at computer programs as analagous to the emergence of life, in that simple coding gives rise to complex phenomena in computers. So, he argued, did life come about.
We can borrow this approach for Simpol too. When a computer or a program goes wrong, the programmer can go back through any number of layers to find the problem. Ultimately, if all else fails, the programmer can go back to the code. Once the problem is fixed at this most simple level the system or program is restored throughout all its levels of complexity. (for those of you who are programmers or computer people I realise this is probably a gross simplification – please accept my apologies and bear in mind I am the sort of person who’s preferred approach to computer fixing usually involves lots of shouting, a hammer and a third story window!)
What this means, essentially, is treating the root cause of the problem and it is this that the simple ideas behind Simpol do at the global political level.
What Simpol recognises is that the root cause of global political problems is Destructive International Competition and it provides both a movement and a mechanism for treating that root cause.
Simpol changes the code of the global political program to a cooperative, open source model and so is uniquely positioned to bring about real and lasting global change.